The 254

Michael Larsen

By Kevin Tankersley

Seeing the world through a lens

When Michael Larsen and his family decided to leave Los Angeles about 10 years ago, it was a toss-up as to where they would go. It would either be to Salt Lake City, to be close to his family, or somewhere around Waco, to be around the family of his wife, Tracy Talbert. That’s how they ended up in China Spring.

“Tracy’s family is pretty much all here,” he said. “They live out on Talbert Ranch Road.”

Together, they are Larsen&Talbert Photography, which they began in 1997. And though they now live in the Lone Star State, they rarely work here.

“We’ve done a handful of jobs in Texas, but most of it’s national or international,” he said. “We’re going to Greece next week for a shoot. We just got back from Portugal.”

Their company counts among its clients Fox, ABC, Disney and Hallmark Channel, which has been one of its biggest accounts.

“We do posters for their movies. That’s why we’re going to Greece,” he said.

Larsen and Talbert have photographed celebrities such as George Clooney, Ray Charles and Quincy Jones. And, Larsen has come to learn, they’re pretty normal.

“We’ve shot a lot of big people, and the experience is always the same,” he said. “You realize very quickly that these big-name celebrities, male or female, are just people. They just happen to have really kind of interesting jobs, but they’re just people.”

About the only time that Larsen has become “starstruck and kind of tingly” was when they were photographing Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne. Larsen’s a big fan of Black Sabbath, the heavy metal band Ozzy formed in 1968.

“To meet him, that was a very special shoot,” Larsen said.

The photographers were told they had about 90 minutes to work with the Osbournes, so they mapped a timeline for the shoot very carefully.

“We brought them through all the set-ups, and they were just great,” Larsen said. “They laid in a bed for us. Ozzy took his shirt off. We were doing a single [pose] of him, and he said, ‘You want me to take my shirt off?’ Yes, of course, because he’s got these amazing tattoos. So he just pulled his shirt off, and we did a whole thing with that.”

Once the shoot was complete and it was time for the Osbournes to leave, Larsen ordered pizza for his crew.

“We were just eating pizza and Ozzy comes toddling over to us and asked if he could join us and have some pizza,” he said. “Apparently, he didn’t have to leave. And he wanted some pizza. So he hung out and ate pizza with us and just chatted about his career and everything. It was just amazing.”

Larsen and Talbert are the parents of 18-year-old twins Luke and Ada, who are in the process of choosing colleges. Luke is a talented, aspiring filmmaker, having shot promotional videos for Silent House Theatre. And Ada is a painter and 3D modeling artist who could also end up in the film industry, working in an art department.

Ghost Stories

An exhibit of Michael Larsen’s work titled “Pompeii — Ghost Stories,” will be on display at Cultivate 7Twelve from May 5–31. An opening reception will be from 6–9 p.m. on May 5.

In September 2021, Larsen accompanied Baylor religion professor Bruce Longenecker Ph.D. on a seven-day trip to Pompeii, the Italian city that was destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. During that week, Larsen shot 2,591 photographs. The exhibit that opens this month contains 12 of those photos, each of which is 24-by-36 inches.

“It was easy to get it down to about 150,” Larsen said. “And then it literally took me a year-and-a-half to [choose 12]. I just had to keep continuing to go back to it and go back to it, and cull and then figure out what the story was, what I was doing with the images or what they were trying to tell me.”